Friday, 12-12-2014. Day 114.
To Incheon Airport (by Bus).
We woke early and walked up the street a few blocks to catch the Airport Limousine (which, again, was a bus).
It was right on time and we had a smooth hour-long ride to the airport, where, after we checked in to our China Eastern flight, we found the nearest KFC and tried the Zinger Double-Down King.
Once we were satiated (and quite possibly would never eat again), we shuffled through security and boarded the plane for the first leg of our two-leg journey.
Incheon Airport to Quindao Airport
There were no direct flights from Seoul to Beijing, so we had to do a short layover in Quindao Airport in China. And this is where things went a little awry.
The security checkpoints in China are pretty intense, and they have no patience for American travelers. Or maybe non-Chinese speakers. Or maybe it was just us. In any case, they were pretty brusque about the whole affair. We were hustled through security pretty quickly. I had to go back through the metal detector (though I had no metal on me, other than the button on my pants) a few times and eventually got a cursory pat down. Jackie's bag was torn apart and put back together (no idea what they were looking for, but they didn't find anything).
Anyway, once we were through, we learned that the second part of our trip had been delayed.
We'd flown China Eastern four times so far, and three of those flights experienced significant delays. And each time, the delay turned out to be a lot longer than initially stated.
So we found a few seats near the flight board and looked for an ATM. We found one, but it didn't take foreign ATM cards. And there was no currency exchange station, either. We didn't have any Chinese yuan, also called renminbi (abbreviated RMB), so we couldn't buy anything unless the stores took credit cards, and many stores still don't accept credit in China.
So we sat there, waiting, keeping an eye on the flight board for what was going on. We were in China, so our T-Mobile Simple Choice plan was limited to Edge roaming. This made it hard to research and get information about the delay (like when we'd be taking off).
Three hours after it was supposed to leave (with us on it), our plane pulled up to the jetway and the entire section of the airport exploded as people shoved things in bags and hurried to be the first in line. There's no orderly boarding by rows in China—get in line quickly or you'll be one of the last to board.
As we packed up we realized I'd lost my Buff (a sad moment for me, as it had accompanied me along the John Muir Trail) and Jackie had lost her hat (the one you've seen in all the pictures) that was handcrafted by a good friend of ours).
Quindao Airport to Beijing Airport
Once we were in the air, the flight was uneventful and less than two hours. By the time we cleared immigration and customs, it was about 9:30 p.m., but our tour guide, a gent by the name of Jack, was there waiting for us.
Before we could forget, I traded in what Korean won I had left for Chinese yuan (I lost about $10 in the transaction, but it was better than if I just held onto the now useless won), then we headed off to the historic Dongfang Hotel, which was inside Beijing's first ring road, not too far from Tiananmen Square.
We checked in and confirmed with Jack that our first part of the tour would start tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. We made our way up to our room and zonked right out. These travel days suck the energy right out of us.
- Buses: 1
- Planes: 2
- Hours in airports: 7
- Security checkpoints: 2